TAMPA, Fla. — Gary Sanchez said his sore back “definitely” felt better Sunday than it did Saturday, but he still wasn’t ready to take batting practice.
“I don’t think so. I don’t think I’ll be hitting outside,” he said Sunday morning through his interpreter. “If I am to hit, I’ll probably do some cage work today.”
Sanchez was scratched from taking batting practice on Saturday after feeling soreness in his lower/mid-back area, a result — as he and the Yankees indicated — of playing in his first back-to-back games of spring training Thursday and Friday.
But Sanchez also said he has felt tightness in the back on and off in camp, meaning he felt it before playing in the back-to-back games.
When manager Aaron Boone discussed the injury on Saturday, he said it was “nothing I’m too concerned about” and predicted that Sanchez would be available for Monday’s game in Clearwater against the Phillies.
However, Boone said Sunday afternoon that won’t happen. He wants to give Sanchez one more day to rest the back and expects to have him back in the lineup at home on Tuesday against Toronto.
“My hope is he’ll be able to play against the Blue Jays. That’s how I have him penciled in,” Boone said. “But we’ll just kind of see how he responds. I know he was better today. I know he was in there even doing some catching drills a little while ago. Hoping that he should be good to go Tuesday.”
Hope, of course, has not worked out very well lately with the Yankees and injuries, and backs are notoriously tough to handle. Until Sanchez is back in the lineup, there will be skepticism from fans.
“It’s been a little tight, a little uncomfortable. We’re treating it,” he said of his back, adding that he has yet to undergo an MRI or X-ray. “After catching those games back-to-back, I just thought it was better for me to take care of it now. This is the right time to take care of anything. You don’t want to rush anything, especially in spring training. You have time. Talked to the trainers. The idea is to take a couple of days and see how it goes. Hopefully keep progressing.”
Sanchez and the rest of the catchers in camp have been working with new catching instructor Tanner Swanson on the one-knee-down stance that Swanson teaches. Sanchez said he could not rule out the possibility that the stance has impacted his back.
“I feel good receiving, definitely feel good,” he said. “At the same time, the question you asked [about the stance], I don’t know if [the back soreness is] a result of that. I just don’t know. It’s early.”
Various injuries limited Sanchez to 106 games last season and 89 games the year before. Boone said the new stance could help in keeping Sanchez healthy, but he didn’t dismiss the possibility that the stance is a factor in the current back problem.
“That’s probably the easy thing to run to, but I’m not so sure,” he said. “Part of the stance, I think, is to alleviate the wear and tear, too, and my hope is over the long haul that it will be something that’s a little less demanding physically.
“When I watch with my eyes, that’s what I’m seeing. I’m seeing him in a more comfortable, less demanding position. But that said, it’s different, so I guess there’s certainly a possibility that it could be a contributor.”